Old Paris

Old Paris


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  • Guérin-Boisseau Street.

    ATGET Eugène (1857 - 1927)

  • Greneta courtyard.

    ATGET Eugène (1857 - 1927)

To close

Title: Guérin-Boisseau Street.

Author : ATGET Eugène (1857 - 1927)

Creation date : 1907

Date shown: 1907

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: photography

Storage place: National Library of France (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo National Library of France

Picture reference: Is. Eo 109b box 4; n micr. T039621

© Photo National Library of France

To close

Title: Greneta courtyard.

Author : ATGET Eugène (1857 - 1927)

Creation date : 1907

Date shown: 1907

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: 163 rue Saint-Denis and 32 rue Greneta.Photography

Storage place: National Library of France (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo National Library of France

Picture reference: Is. Eo 109b box 4; n micr. T039613

© Photo National Library of France

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

While the work carried out under the Second Empire at the instigation of Baron Haussmann gave Paris its modern appearance, it also led to the destruction of entire neighborhoods and thousands of old houses. Old Paris received an irremediable wound under Napoleon III. The emperor and his prefect of the Seine wanted in particular to improve the hygiene and cleanliness of the dwellings in the capital; gold, in the middle of the XIXe century, half of the houses in Paris are unsanitary and many of them are located in the alleys of Old Paris.

In 1849, the cholera epidemic in Paris was fostered by the tangle of alleys, the small size of the houses, the overcrowding of the population and the inadequacy of the roads. "The most striking feature of all these houses is an excessive dirtiness which makes them real hotbeds of infection", wrote in 1840 Frégier, office worker at the prefecture, about the garnis de Paris. “[…] The greatest uncleanliness reigns everywhere; windows instead of panes only have oiled paper. The rooms are terrible; on each floor, the garbage that is thrown in the toilet area flows back onto the stairs; in short, it is the most repulsive stay of vice and misery "(H. A. FREGIER, Dangerous Classes of Population in Big Cities, and Ways to Make Them Better, J. B. Baillière, 1840, 2 vol., T. 1).

Public policy considerations are added to the health risk. Haussmann describes Old Paris, "an almost impracticable maze", as the "district of riots, barricades" (HAUSSMANN, Briefs, t. 3, Great works of Paris, Victor Havard, 1893, p. 54). There will be nothing left of the rue Transnonain or the former Arcis and Grève district, near the Town Hall.

Image Analysis

Half a century later, Atget begins to walk the streets of the capital to immortalize what has escaped destruction. These photographs offer views of the rue Guérin-Boisseau and the Greneta courtyard, both located in the Bonne-Nouvelle district of the IIe borough.

The rue Guérin-Boisseau, which dates back to the 13the century, lost about fifty of its houses with the opening of Boulevard de Sébastopol in the 1850s.

The rue des Arts, the rue des Métiers and the passage Saint-Denis, which all led to the rue Greneta, have disappeared for the same reason. In Cesar Birotteau, Balzac describes rue Greneta in these terms: “All the houses, invaded by a multitude of businesses, offer a repulsive spectacle. The buildings there have a horrible character. The despicable dirtiness of the factories dominates there. "

These two streets therefore belong to Old Paris, which Haussmann’s works demolished. In Atget's photographs, the street and courtyard are almost deserted: the hotels in the first don't seem to accommodate many clients, while the second is the territory of objects - a pram, a chair - lying there for no reason. . This destitution and emptiness are easily explained by the fact that Atget worked early in the morning; but they give the impression that the buildings, abandoned, empty, naked, are already on the brink of death.

Interpretation

It was from 1897-1898 that Atget began to systematically photograph the streets of Paris. He meticulously records facades, shops, storefronts, interiors, he records uses, he immortalizes small trades. His topographical views are collected in the series Old Paris ; collection Art in Old Paris is devoted to decorative arts such as balconies, signs and railings.

At the same time, the Commission du Vieux Paris was created, proof that contemporaries, nourishing a growing interest in the heritage of the capital, were acutely aware of the ravages of Haussmannization, but also of the passing of time. Both documentary pieces and works of art, Atget’s photographs bear witness to this sentimental attachment to Paris in the early 19th century.e century. Admittedly, this one has precursors: Baron Taylor, with his lithographs, Martial Potémont painting his etchings, and Marville, whose photographs justify the work of Haussmann, all in their way contributed to preserve the memory of it. . But, more than any other work, the photographs presented here perpetuate the austere and tragic poetry of buildings doomed to disappear, to the despair of the one who still wrote in 1920: “I can say that I own all of Old Paris. "

  • Haussmann (Georges Eugène)
  • hygiene
  • Paris
  • patrimony
  • town planning
  • vandalism
  • city
  • Old paris

Bibliography

Georges DUBY (dir.), History of urban France, t. 4, The city of the industrial age, Paris, Seuil, 1983.

HAUSSMANN, Briefs, t. 3, Great works of Paris, Victor Havard, 1893.

Jean LEROY, Atget magician of Old Paris in his time, Joinville-le-Pont, P.-J. Balbo, 1975.

Bernard MARCHAND, Paris, history of a city (19th-20th century), Paris, Seuil, 1993.

Patrice de MONCAN, Christian MAHOUT, The Paris of Baron Haussmann. Paris under the Second Empire, Paris, SEESAM-RCI Editions, 1991.

Notes

To cite this article

Ivan JABLONKA, "The Old Paris"


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